The Case for Normal Sized Adventures
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me some variation of, “so, what mountains are you climbing this year?” in the past few months, I’d easily have enough to pay for a guided ascent of any peak in North America. I love that so many people in my life understand how important playing outside in a big way is to me, but this year, I’m focusing on normal sized adventures.
I climbed Mount Rainier last year, and it was the first time I’d done anything that big. Prior to that, an “epic” trip in my world might have involved a long weekend on Devil’s Path in the Catskills suffering through the thunderstorms that always seem to find me when I’m there. An “epic” rock climbing day might have involved more than two sport leads, as I’m usually so scared that I can only manage a few before my mental reserves run out.
I love reading magazines like Alpinist and Outside because the stories are about ground breaking, life changing, and uncharted territory exploration. Those types of experiences are vital to the growth of the outdoor pursuits I love, and I’m inspired by people doing things I hope to have the skills, experience and courage to do someday. But more than that, I’m inspired by my peers, and by people having normal sized adventures.
So what is a normal sized adventure, anyway? In my book, it’s up for interpretation. What might be normal sized for me might be boring, or conversely, an epic for someone else. This is what makes playing outside so much fun. I’ll go on hikes in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area with folks who’ve never hiked in their lives, and for them, Mount Tammany or Mount Minsi might be an epic. I’ll belay for parties at my home climbing gym and for some of the climbers, it’s their first time on a wall. When I climbed Rainier, admitting my fears to our seemingly fearless guides was difficult, but for me, that was as hard as playing outside had ever been in my world.
It’s all a matter of perspective, and everyone’s perspective is different. I’m still working to find my perfect risk/reward balance and what my normal adventure looks like. It changes on a regular basis. I know the more I do, the more risks I take, the more confident I’ll become and the more I’ll learn. The balance and my perception of what is and is not an epic will continue to change.
I love hearing stories from friends after a day at our local rock climbing spot as much as I enjoy reading about ground breaking quests in my favorite magazines. I can relate to my peers and appreciate what they’ve done. The bottom line – normal sized adventures are important, and sharing yours might inspire others more than you think! We can’t all be first ascentionists in Patagonia or put up 5.14 climbs on a regular basis. But what I know I can do is introduce friends to rock climbing at the gym and take anyone willing to come hiking. These normal sized adventures can be building blocks for future exploration and bigger ventures.
So, get outside and have your own adventures, big and small!